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Scarcely had the funeral of Messalina occurred, when there was a pretty scramble among the eligible to see who should solace the stricken widower. Among other matrimonial candidates was Agrippina, a beautiful widow, twenty-nine in June, rich in her own right, and with only a small encumbrance in the way of a ten-year-old boy, Nero by name.

Agrippina was a niece of Claudius, and such marriages were considered unnatural; but Agrippina had subtly shown that, the deceased Emperor being her brother, she already had a sort of claim on the throne, and her marriage with Claudius would strengthen the State. Then she marshaled her charms past Claudius, in a phalanx and back, and so they were married. There was much pomp and ceremony at the wedding, and the high priest pronounced the magic words–I trust I use the right expression.

Very soon after her marriage, Agrippina recalled Seneca from exile. It was the infamous Messalina who had disgraced him and sent him away, and for Agrippina, the sister of Julia, to bring him back, was regarded as a certificate of innocence, and a great diplomatic move for Agrippina.

When Seneca returned, the whole city went out to meet him. It is not at all likely that Seneca had a suspicion of the true character of Agrippina, any more than Claudius–which sort of tends to show the futility of philosophy.

How could Seneca read her true character when it had not really been formed? No one knows what he will do until he gets a good chance. It is unkind condition that keeps most of us where we belong.

And even while the honeymoon–or should we say the harvest-moon?–was at full, Seneca was made the legal guardian and tutor of Nero, the son of the Empress, and became a member of the royal household. This was done in gratitude, and to make amends, if possible, for the wrong of banishment inflicted upon the man by scandalously linking his name with that of the sister of the woman who was now First Lady of the Land.

Seneca was then forty-nine years of age. He had fifteen years of life yet before him, and was to gain much valuable experience, and get an insight into a side of existence he had not yet known.

Agrippina was born in Cologne, which was called, in her honor, Colonia Agrippina, and now has been shortened to its present form. Whenever you buy cologne, remember where the word came from.

Agrippina, from her very girlhood, had a thirst for adventure, and her aim was high. When fourteen, she married Domitius, a Roman noble, thirty years her senior. He was as worthless a rogue as ever wore out his physical capacity for sin in middle life, and filled his dying days with crimes that were only mental. He knew himself so well that when Nero was born he declared that the issue of such a marriage could only breed a being who would ruin the State–a monster with his father’s vices and his mother’s insatiable ambition.

Agrippina was woman enough to hate this man with an utter detestation; but he was rich, and so she endured him for ten years, and then assisted Nature in making him food for worms.

The intensity of Agrippina’s nature might have been used for happy ends if the stream of her life had not been so early dammed and polluted. She loved her child with a clutching, feverish affection, and declared that he would some day rule Rome. This was not really such a far-away dream, when we remember that her brother was then Emperor and childless. Her thought was more for her child than for herself, and her expectation was that he would succeed Caligula. The persistency with which she told this ambition for her boy is both beautiful and pathetic. Every mother sees her own life projected in her child, and within certain bounds this is right and well.